LYNN – “Edges,” the song-cycle musical by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul that opens Arts After Hours’ eighth season tomorrow night, was written for a cast of two men and two women.
When a dearth of men auditioned for the production, director Catherine Bertrand and Samantha Gambaccini, the group’s producing artistic director, decided to switch things up. They cast women in all four roles.
They are glad they did. It takes the show in a totally different direction.
“Edges” is about coming of age, growth and self-discovery by young adults. Pasek and Paul wrote the musical in 2005 when they were students at the University of Michigan. The duo has since gone on to great success, writing lyrics for the Academy Award-winning song “City of Stars” in “La La Land” and songs in the film “The Greatest Showman.”
“This is a witty, charming, and honest examination of adulthood with songs that will resonate with people young and old. This take on ‘Edges’ centers around four strong women asking classic coming-of-age questions everyone can relate to,” said Gambaccini.
“Our four women have incredible voices,” added Bertrand, a Lynn native and former executive artistic director of Salem Theatre Company. “I said, ‘no, we’re not going to beg men to fill those roles.’ I didn’t feel that was right. We had eight women for callbacks; all were excellent.”
Bertrand said the four cast members bring varied vocal styles to their roles: Krystal Scott of Fitchburg has a classic musical theater voice, Concetta Russo of Peabody brings a rock and roll vibe, Nicole Viau of Malden has an operatic high soprano, and Catherine Benjamin of Salem delivers a Joni Mitchell-like folk sound.
Gambaccini said “talented, strong women,” are, in fact, leading the way with “Edges.” In addition to Gambaccini, Bertrand and the cast, the production is further guided by music director Sarah Byrne-Martelli of Somerville and stage manager Cesara Walters of Revere.
“We are bad-ass women,” said Gambaccini, with a smile.
Byrne-Martelli, a former Revere resident, has assembled a four-piece band. The show, she said, “is great fun. The music is a mix of pop-rock and contemporary musical theater. The songs are about love and relationships. It’s totally relatable.”
“Edges” is at the LynnArts Rantoul Black Box Theatre in Central Square June 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10. It runs for 75 minutes with no intermission. Beer, wine, soda and snacks will be available. For tickets and additional information, go to artsafterhours.com. A discount is available to Item readers for this weekend’s shows; use the code ITEMREADER and save $10 per ticket, making prices between $10 and $15 for all seats.